Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

This lemon poppy seed cake is made up of fluffy lemon sponge layers studded with poppyseeds and then frosted with a glorious lemon cream cheese frosting!

I wanted to bake a cake. I also want it to be warm outside. So I basically baked spring. I promise it tastes like spring! …I guess something like rose or lavender would taste more like spring but a lemon poppyseed cake will do for now. 

Also, I used my mom’s basic sponge cake recipe (if you don’t know my mom, she’s a fabulous baker:) & added lemon and poppy seeds to it. It turned out wonderful, except it’s not that easy to make. I mean it’s not hard but most people I know haven’t really experienced working with sponge cakes.

How to make lemon poppyseed cake

Like I said, the cake is made up of three layers of sponge cake. The cakes get soaked in a simple syrup (since there’s no fat in the ingredients the cakes become “spongey” so they need a little soak). The frosting is a simple cream cheese frosting flavored with a lemon bit of lemons!

Sponge cakes are much less sturdy than butter/oil cakes; you definitely can’t stack them as tall. You also want to make sure you refrigerate it before decorating because that’s the mistake I always make. I’m too eager to frost. I don’t refrigerate it enough and then it gets all soft and slouchy… but not today! 


  • Eggs – eggs are the base of sponge cake recipes; use large (55-60 grams each) room temperature eggs.
    • If they’re cold, pop them in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
  • Sugar – I used granulated sugar, don’t cut the sugar in the sponge. You can cut the sugar in the simple syrup if you want it less sweet.
  • Flour -I use all purpose flour in most of my recipes and I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured. Cake flour also works well in this recipe. 
  • Lemons – use the lemon juice and zest for extra flavor
  • Poppyseeds – well, this is obvious, no?

How to store lemon poppyseed cake

Sponge cakes are very soft compared to butter cakes and cream cheese frosting is all so softer than classic buttercream so make sure to keep your cake refrigerated. Cover any cut slices with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for 7-10 days for freeze for 2-3 months. If freezing, place the airtight container in another freezer bag and squeeze out all the excess air.

Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below. Make sure to leave it in the comment section because I can’t answer in the rating section.

If you make this genoise, I’d love it if you left a star rating for me and a comment letting me know what cake you used it in. If it’s less than five stars, please let me know why! 🙂

As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!

Love, B

Yield: 8-12 servings

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

slice of lemon poppyseed cake with a flower

The perfect spring cake featuring 3 lemon poppy seed sponge cake layers and a cream cheese icing!

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes


Simple Syrup

  • 2 cups (480mL) water
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 large lemon, juice

Sponge Cake

  • 12 large eggs (55-60 grams each), room temperature and separated
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds


  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 brick), room temperature
  • 4 cup (480 grams) powdered sugar, spooned and leveled
  • 2-3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lemon juice


Simple Syrup

  1. Before starting on the cake, boil together the water and sugar to make the syrup.
  2. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove it from the heat, mix in the lemon juice, and let it cool while baking the cake.

Sponge Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/177C convection (325F/163C conventional) and grease and line three 8-inch pans with baking spray and parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of the stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, at full speed, beat until they're frothy.
  3. With the mixer on medium speed, stream in the cup of sugar. Turn the mixer up to full speed and beat just until the meringue reaches stiff peaks.
  4. Add in the egg yolks and vanilla and turn the mixer to medium-high speed, mixing, a few seconds, just until they're fully combined.
  5. Sift in the flour and add the salt, lemon juice, zest and poppy seeds and turn the mixer up to medium-low speed, mixing just until the it's all incorporated.
  6. Scrape the edge of the bowl well and distribute the batter evenly among the three pans, about 8 ounces each, and bake for about 22-25 minutes, until the cake is golden and separates itself from the edge of the pan. It will also spring back when you press on it gently.
  7. Flip the cakes over onto a tea towel and allow them to cool completely (I don't recommend flipping onto a wire rack, mine got suck on there before).
    Dust with powdered sugar and serve or use in a layer cake.


  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese until it becomes pale and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and lemon juice.
  2. Add in the powdered sugar and salt and whip on low speed until the sugar is combined. Increase to full speed for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Reduce the speed to medium-low and stream in the heavy whipping cream. Scrape the edge of the bowl and turn the mixer up to full speed for 30-60 seconds.


  1. Once the cake has cooled, place the first layer of sponge upside down on a cake board/stand. I like to poke little holes in the cake with a fork and then use 1/3 of the simple syrup to soak the cake with a spoon/brush/squeeze bottle. Allow it to soak in completely and then spread 1/4 of your frosting on top. Repeat this step for the next two layers.
  2. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before frosting the outside of the cake.
  3. Finish decorating the cake and enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 598Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 235mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 90gFiber: 1gSugar: 73gProtein: 10g

Nutrition information may not be fully accurate.

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